My mother baked a coffee cake regularly and this is like one of her cakes, but with the nuts added. The nuts give great texture and this is a great recipe for anyone who enjoys baking. We serve it in the restaurant and it is popular. We also bake it in the cookery school where people enjoy making it, so it doesn’t last long. I like to use the coconut sugar. You use less of it and it keeps the cake moist. Be sure to check if any of your guests have a nut allergy.

My sister Sonya, who lives nearby, is a great baker. We picked up our love of baking from our mother and all of us have a sweet tooth. Sonya is the inspiration behind these peanut butter cupcakes. Salted caramel and peanut butter is a great combination. Children love these cupcakes and both recipes today are an ideal treat with a cup of tea or coffee.

Happy cooking,


Peanut butter cupcakes with salted caramel frosting

Makes 12


200g (7oz) dark muscovado sugar

125g (4 ½oz) smooth peanut butter

75g (3oz) butter

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

125g (4 ½oz) plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

50ml (2fl oz) milk

Salted caramel frosting

350g (12oz) icing sugar, sifted

100g (4oz) unsalted butter

6 tbsp canned caramel or dulce de leche

2 tbsp milk

Good pinch of sea salt flakes


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4). Line as 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

2. Place the sugar, peanut butter and butter in a stand-alone mixer and beat until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking continuously.

4. Tip in the vanilla extract and continue mixing – the more you mix, the lighter it becomes.

5. Meanwhile, sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add one third of the flour to the sugar mixture and gently fold in.

6. Add one third of the milk and fold it in, continuing in this way until all of the flour and milk are well combined.

7. Scoop the batter into the lined muffin tin, filling each one no more than two-thirds full.

8. Bake for 20–22 minutes, until well risen and golden.

9. To make the salted caramel frosting, beat the icing sugar and butter in a mixer until light and fluffy.

10. Add the caramel, milk and salt and beat for another four minutes, until lightly and fluffy.

11. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 2.5cm (1in) star-shaped nozzle.

12.Remove the cupcakes from the oven and if time allows, allow to cool. Otherwise, serve the cupcakes on plates with a little dish of piped frosting on the side. Give each guest a knife and allow them to spread on the frosting themselves.

Coffee cake with mixed toffee nuts

Serves eight to 10

150 g (5oz) butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

100g (4oz) coconut sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

150g (5oz) plain flour, sifted

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp instant coffee

1 tsp hot water

5 tbsp milk

Toffee nuts

100g (2oz) demerara or coconut sugar

50g (2oz) honey

75 ml (2fl oz) hot water

1 tbsp softened butter

120g (3oz) toasted mixed nuts (flaked almonds, walnuts and pecans)


1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F/gas mark 3).

2. Lightly grease four half-pound mini loaf tins with butter or, alternatively, a 23cm (9in) loose-bottomed cake tin and line with parchment paper.

3. Place the butter, coconut sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and creamy.

4. Add the egg and egg yolk and beat well until combined.

5. Add the flour and baking powder and beat again until combined.

6. Place the instant coffee and hot water in a cup and mix well.

7. Add the coffee and milk to the butter mixture and fold it through using a large metal spoon.

8. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin.

9. Bake for 25 minutes if using the small loaf tins or 35 to 40 minutes for the loose-bottom tin. Bake until cooked through when tested with a skewer.

10. Leave to cool in the tin for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

For the toffee nuts

1.Place the demerara/coconut sugar, honey and hot water in a small pan over a medium heat.

2. Cook for six to eight minutes, without stirring, until golden brown and slightly thickened.

3. Add the butter and another tablespoon of water and cook for three minutes.

4. Add the mixed nuts and stir well until they are all evenly coated.

5. Spoon immediately over the cake and serve straight to the table.

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